"Today, Tennessee Walking Horses are known throughout the industry
as the breed that shows abused and tortured horses."

~ Jim Heird, Ph.D., Do Right By The Horse, February 2010

"If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity,
you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men."

~ St. Francis of Assisi

Thursday, September 13, 2012

NEWS, ARTICLES and HOW YOU CAN HELP - New Amendments Introduced for the Horse Protection Act - GET YOUR LETTERS OUT THERE!

Everyone, we NEED your help on this!
We cannot let the industry use their money and lies to get these amendments ignored!

Click here for the HSUS's press release which contains more details!


Today, U.S. Reps Ed Whitfield (R-KY) and Steve Cohen (D-TN), with original co-sponsors Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), and Jim Moran (D-VA), introduced H.R. 6388, a new bill with new amendments the Horse Protection Act.

This is HUGE folks!  A Republican in Kentucky and a Democrat in Tennessee have joined forces to end this.  I think this is quite possibly one of the only times I've ever seen two side of the political spectrum come together to want to amend a federal law.  Plus they're from the two states where soring is most rampant!

Here is the linke to the article from Animals & Politics.  The article is copied and pasted below.


Thursday, September 13, 2012
Lawmakers Seek to Strengthen the Horse Protection Act

Congress passed the Horse Protection Act of 1970 aiming to eliminate the cruel practice of “soring” show horses—applying caustic chemicals to their hooves and legs, inserting sharp objects, and using other painful techniques to force an artificially high-stepping gait, a form of cheating that gives those who engage in this abuse a competitive edge over owners and trainers who do not. Unfortunately, more than four decades later, soring and cheating continue to be rampant throughout the Tennessee walking horse industry, as exposed by a recent HSUS undercover investigation at the training barn of Jackie McConnell, one of the breed’s most celebrated trainers caught on camera beating a horse and painting chemicals on the legs to burn his flesh. Why? As awful as it sounds, to accustom the animal to pain.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and federal prosecutors have stepped up their enforcement of the law, and are working hard to prevent soring and bring criminal horse abusers to justice. But the law itself has some gaps, and is not strong enough to provide a meaningful deterrent for those who abuse horses in terrible ways just to win a blue ribbon. Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Neff submitted a sentencing memo in McConnell’s case, saying "the sad reality is that the law passed by Congress does not possess significant teeth."

Fortunately, members of Congress are taking action to give the law more teeth, and to give inspectors and prosecutors the tools they need to crack down on soring and prevent this abuse once and for all. Today, U.S. Reps. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., and Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., with original co-sponsors Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., and Jim Moran, D-Va., introduced H.R. 6388, a new bill to toughen up the Horse Protection Act.

The legislation would eliminate the failed industry-run inspection system in which horse industry organizations currently license and choose who conducts inspections at horse shows, and instead would have USDA develop a roster of licensed inspectors, train them, assign them to shows, and oversee enforcement. It would explicitly ban certain devices used in the soring process on certain breeds, including chains designed to cause friction or strike a horse’s sore leg, and weighted shoes and pads attached in such a way as to painfully alter the horse’s gait. The bill would make the actual soring of a horse for the purpose of showing or selling the horse illegal, as well as the act of directing another to sore a horse for these purposes. And it would increase the criminal penalty from a misdemeanor to a felony subject to up to three years’ jail time, and increase fines to up to $5,000 per violation. For a third violation, it allows permanent disqualification from participating in any horse show, exhibition, sale or auction.

It’s clear that the current practice of essentially allowing the industry to police itself has failed miserably, and a new approach is needed. USDA swab tests on 52 random horses at the 2011 Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration resulted in 52 positive findings for prohibited foreign substances. A 2010 USDA Office of Inspector General audit exposed how those in the walking horse industry work to evade detection, rather than comply with federal law and train horses humanely, and how the serious conflicts of interest by industry-selected inspectors have made enforcement hollow.

We are grateful to Reps. Whitfield and Cohen for introducing H.R. 6388 to turn this situation around and save these horses from a lifetime of abuse. Please contact your Members of Congress today. Urge them to cosponsor this much-needed reform and finally give horses the protections they should have had more than 40 years ago.


Let's break it down a bit.

THIS WILL COST OUR LAWMAKERS ZERO DOLLARS TO IMPLEMENT.  Be sure to point that out in your letters!

The specifics are:

No more HIOs!  The USDA would use their current funds to "develop a roster of licensed inspectors, train them, assign them to shows, and oversee enforcement."  This is GOOD, since only three of the 12 HIOs are TRULY sound!

Chains will be banned!  It says "certain devices," but not exactly what they are, but it does specifically call out chains as being banned. Let's remember: 6 oz chains (allowed in the show ring) and 8 oz chains do not train a horse to step higher, as proven by Dr. Nicodemus below:
***NEW!  Stacks would be banned!  From the HSUS's press release:

H.R. 6388 also outlaws “stacks” and pads, known as performance packages, which are nailed to the horse’s hoof to add weight and height, forcing the horse to lift his feet higher and strike the ground harder, at an abnormal angle. The stacks are also often used to conceal sharp or hard objects that have been inserted into the soft tissue of the horses’ hooves to increase pressure and pain and obtain the desired gait. These devices have been widely condemned by veterinary groups, including the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Association of Equine Practitioners and the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association.

Soring would be a felony! Currently it is only a misdemanor.

Increase in jail time and fines!  Up to three years in jail and up to a $5000 fine per violation.

Permanent disqualification for third violation!  This is over a lifetime and is not "renewable" every year.  Disqualification is from any horse show, exhibition, auction, or sale.

Soring at home would be punishable!  THIS IS HUGE: " The bill would make the actual soring of a horse for the purpose of showing or selling the horse illegal, as well as the act of directing another to sore a horse for these purposes."  There would be no more of the HPA only being useful if the violators are caught in public!

These amendments give hefty new teeth to the HPA, and they would make amazing strides in TRUE reform in the industry.  We know these animal abusers and animal abuse supporters are not going to change their ways--it's been proven time and time again as violations pile up every year.

Now, how to help!

Please go to this page on the HSUS website.  Here, you can submit a general letter to legislators that the HSUS has written.  You can add to it

Go to www.senate.gov.  In the upper right corner, choose Find Your Senator.  Be sure to have your complete 8-digit zip code to do this, which you can find on www.usps.com (choose Look Up a Zip Code in the left side toolbar).  When you look up your Senator, find the contact me page and add your letter.  You can use text from the HSUS letter if you need to.

Go to www.house.gov and follow the same instructions as above.  Choose Find Your Representative in the upper right corner.

This is my letter to my Senators and Reps.  PLEASE WRITE YOUR OWN.  I used text from the HSUS letter because it is simple, concise and easy to understand.


Today, federal bill H.R. 6388 was introduced by Representatives Ed Whitfield (R-KY) and Steve Cohen (D-TN ) known as the Horse Protection Act Amendments of 2012. I ask you to please support this bill. This legislation would require more meaningful enforcement by USDA to end the cruel and abusive practice of "soring" Tennessee Walking Horses (TWHs).

While we have a few TWH shows in Arizona, myself and others have worked to keep those who continue to sore horses out of our state.  But we need to see stronger penalties now to stop it in all states.

Congress first tried to address this problem in 1970, with the original Horse Protection Act.  Unfortunately, as acknowledged by USDA's Inspector General, veterinary organizations, and even TWH industry insiders, the law has been weakly enforced and largely ineffective, allowing rampant soring to continue.  In a sport that rewards the artificially produced high-stepping gait known as the "Big Lick," TWHs suffer appalling pain inflicted by unethical, law-breaking trainers who try to gain a competitive edge at horse shows by enhancing the breed's natural gait.  They use caustic chemicals, chains, hoof knives and grinders, sharp objects, weighted shoes, and other painful devices and techniques that make it hurt for the horse to step down and then they go to great lengths to cover their tracks and to push their legislators to defend the status quo.  A video released this year by the Humane Society chronicles undercover footage of abuse that is commonplace in the industry, yet industry insiders continue to deny it occurs.  Video link (warning - graphic footage): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gxVlxT_x-f0

H.R. 6388 would amend the Horse Protection Act of 1970 to make it stronger and more enforceable.  The bill would eliminate the failed system of industry self-policing, explicitly prohibit certain devices that have been implicated in the cruel practice of soring, strengthen penalties, and hold accountable all perpetrators who are involved in this cruel practice. The bill is simple and does not cost the federal government any additional money.  It is designed to restore the integrity of this show horse industry, thereby saving jobs while protecting horses from torture and abuse.

For more information, please visit www.forthetwh.com or humanesociety.org.  Thank you for your support of this bill.


Know that the industry is going to fight this to the bitter end.  They are going to shake hands and try to do deals under the table, trying to use money and their social influences to stop these amendments from being approved.  DON'T LET THIS HAPPEN!  Write to your Congressmen once a week or even once a day if you have to!  We MUST get this amendment passed to save the horse!

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